Team Experience is discussing each Oscar category in the lead up to the ceremony. Here’s Ben Miller and Eurocheese to talk Best Editing
Ben Miller: Well Eurocheese, we’re back again. Pre-nominations, Nick Taylor and I talked about Best Editing being more of an alternative Best Picture lineup. Low-and-behold, all five Editing nominees are also up for Best Picture. Before we get to talking about the actual nominees, let’s pour one out for films that should have gotten a notice in this category. Personally, I thought the editing in All Quiet on the Western Front was pretty spectacular. When it comes to coherent action sequences, my main gripe is a sense of place and atmosphere. For a while, any action or war film was edited with insanity and incoherence. God bless George Miller because Mad Max: Fury Road showed a first-class way to convey clear, heart-pumping action without throwing you out of sorts. All Quiet isn’t renowned for its action sequences, but when it shows up, it is crystal clear about direction, orientation, and presence.
What film did you personally want in the lineup, no matter how unrealistic?
Eurocheese: I have to agree with Nick’s dream pick: Aftersun. Talk about a film entirely built on editing, where our central character is tying together fragmented memories to better understand her past. I was thrilled Mescal snagged the last spot in Actor, but I would have showered this powerful film with nominations, and this would certainly be one of them. (Decision to Leave would be next in line – another film where the editing was front and center.)
It didn’t surprise me at all that the line up was so closely tied to Best Picture. Short of The Fabelmans – a surprise miss here when it comes to the BP nominees, and a film I would have also wanted to see nominated – this is a solid group. I don’t love Elvis’ overly flashy editing, but I understand the pick.
In the end, though, I’d imagine this is down to Everything Everywhere vs. Top Gun. Do you see anything else taking the win?
Ben: It’s always easy to say “it’s between A and B,” but I don’t see a scenario where that isn’t the case here. If you look at the other three nominees, TÁR is a worthy and welcome surprise to the lineup, Elvis is the “most editing”, while The Banshees of Inisherin is the most confounding of the nominees. The only thing that I could see surprising is Elvis, because of the grandiose nature of everything it is bringing. Every once in a while, maximalism works. If anything comes out of left field to surprise, it would be Elvis.
Every Oscar year there are the “technical excellence” films. Dune, Mank, Black Panther, and Dunkirk are recent examples. These films don’t really play into the Best Picture race in a threat-to-win way, but they always get AT LEAST one below-the-line win. This year, I’d argue there are three “technical excellence” films with All Quiet, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Maverick. Those other two are not nominated in this category and have their respective wins sewn up (International Feature/Visual Effects). Because EEAAO is a real threat at the Best Picture win and has at least Supporting Actor in the bag, I think the voters actually take that into account.
That being said, while having two Best Picture nominees as the threats to win Best Editing isn’t ideal, you could do much worse on the editing side than EEAAO and Maverick as the frontrunners. What are your feelings of the editing of the two frontrunners?
Eurocheese: I walked away from both films with editing as a standout in my mind. Actually, in both cases I wasn’t particularly thinking of them as awards contenders when I first saw them. In the case of Everything Everywhere, the movie relies so heavily on its editing choices that a few missteps would turn the entire film into a confusing tailspin. For those who have only watched the film once, I highly recommend another viewing to greater appreciate its craft across the board, but especially take note of how surrealist, insane ideas are tied together in a surprisingly coherent way. As confusing as the concepts involved might be, I have yet to run into a person who said they simply couldn’t follow the film’s emotional throughline.
Top Gun builds tension to an emotional payoff in its final act, bringing the audience along for the ride. I know Sound can often go hand in hand with this category, and EEAAO missing out there could be meaningful. Is a steady build that we have seen before enough to succeed here? It certainly could be, as this is a place to reward a film the Academy clearly loves. I’d argue juggernauts are far from locks in this category, though. If anything, the most common pattern I see among recent winners is war films, and they passed on potential spoiler All Quiet on the Western Front.
I completely disagree with you leaving EEAAO out of that list of technical excellence films. It is an action film with high concept originality in so many areas – inventive cinematography, impressive choreography, brilliant costumes, expansive world building and the list goes on. If one of these films is going to be studied in film schools a decade or two from now, I have to imagine this is the one. Would you agree with me there?
Ben: I do agree with you about the potential legacy of EEAAO, but the “technical excellence” group I was talking about doesn’t necessarily award the film outside the technical categories and a Best Picture slot (without a chance of winning). Mank is the only one of the examples cited where the films earned acting nominations (and both those were in no way in contention for the actual trophy). Also, 1917 is the only one with a Screenplay nomination.
EEAAO is an anomaly. It was released early in the year to critical acclaim and a slow but steady box office. Plenty of fans were hoping for awards attention, but cautiously. Once award season rolled around, it couldn’t be ignored. Now we are talking about it in terms of a potential Best Picture win. On top of that, I don’t see the film as one where people saw the technical excellence and then gravitated toward the performances. It’s the opposite. Everyone was so in love with Yeoh, Quan, Hsu, and Curtis that they watched the film multiple times. Upon rewatch, further love was given to the effects, costumes, music, and specifically the editing. You nailed the importance of editing in this film. It’s essential for the film’s success. I’m personally pulling for it to win.
The original Black Panther is the closest parallel I see to Top Gun: Maverick. Both films were monstrous box office hits (with relatively low initial expectations), and both had top-to-bottom technical brilliance while missing Best Director and acting nominations. Because of those misses in particular, this seems like the right place for Maverick to win its Oscar. It would by no means be a Bohemian Rhapsody style undeserved win. I think the editing is pretty impeccable, it just doesn’t reach the heights of its top competitor.
Alright, we’ve beaten around the bush enough…give me your predicted winner, your hopeful winner, and who could play the spoiler.
Hopeful winner: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Prediction: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Spoiler: Top Gun: Maverick
It’s going to be a close race between the two, to be sure, and recent winners have not favored potential Best Picture winners. How often is one of those films an action film, though? If Brit Eddie Hamilton wasn’t able to prevail at the BAFTAs, where they had no issue passing on EEAAO in every other category, I have to assume he misses here as well. What are your picks?